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Solomon Islands Lost Millions In Meat Imports

SI Lost Millions In Meat Imports

Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Selwyn Riumana said recently in Parliament that it is costing the government around $20million annually in meat importation.

Therefore, he said the government is taking serious measures to address the situation through a national cattle rehabilitation program.

Mr Riumana further, adds government is seriously addressing livestock development in the country and for a start; the Ministry has arranged to import at least 1000 pregnant heifers for breeding purposes this year.

"The government will be very careful on implementation of the cattle industry rehabilitation program as not to repeat past mistakes", he said.

The ministry, he said has put in place criteria for selection, identification and determination of farmers qualified to be part of this government program.

The minister said he believes maintaining and improving parent stock for breeding and research purposes can be the ingredient to sustain supply of quality stock to participating farmers.

"With clear policy direction and availability of funds the ministry intends to build up breeding stocks in the next five to ten years with the intention to reduce importation of beef products", he said.

The Minister said Animal Health and Production Department in the Ministry would provide service to all participating farmers throughout the country, which involves advisory, and extension support in animal health and production, smallholder farmers' support, capacity building and institutional strengthening.

Minister Riumana however, said with nation wide increasing demand in livestock activities, his ministry continues to encounter challenges such as:

* The growing number of interested farmers to take up livestock farming throughout the rural areas and peri-urban centres

* The chronic shortage of beef cattle in the country

* Lack of proper facilities for animals to go through proper slaughtering process based on basic health requirements and

* Shortage of technical expertise to quickly address the division roles and functions on monitoring and surveillance on Animal Health, regulate the Pure Food Act, conduct research for improved animal breed, and domestication of indigenous animal species.

Already, the former government farm at Tenavatu, on North Guadalcanal, have been reconstructed by the Ministry after it was destroyed in 2000 that will accommodate the imported cows.

The farm will be the new breeding farm from which farmers throughout the country will obtain calves to raise on their farms.

ENDS

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